St. Peter parishioners hear about relief efforts in Haiti


Photo by Alan M. Dumoff/More photos

fatheranthonypast-webA night of Soup, Stations and Solidarity at St. Peter Parish, Merchantville, on Friday, March 12 began with pasta fagioli soup made by pastor Father Anthony Manuppella.

MERCHANTVILLE —  A trio of speakers came to St. Peter Parish here on Friday, March 12 to speak of the relief effort in earthquake-ravaged Haiti and how parishioners can help.

The evening started with pastor Father Anthony Manuppella’s own pasta fagioli soup and garlic bread, and Stations of the Cross in the main church. The some 150 people in attendance then went into Pastor’s Hall and heard from two staff members of Cooper University Hospital, Camden — Hildegarde “Nancy” Cadet, a registered nurse, and Albert Gonzalez, a trauma technician — and Msgr. Joe Ciampaglio, from Catholic Relief Services’ Global Fellows Program.

Five days after the Jan. 12 earthquake that killed more than 200,000 people, injured more than 300,000, and destroyed over 250,000 homes, Cooper Hospital University sent 18 staff members to Jimani, Dominican Republic, a border town near Haiti which was aiding those injured from the earthquake. The team, which devoted 12 days to humanitarian work, included  an orthopedic surgeon, emergency room doctors, pulmonary care doctors, pediatric care doctors, trauma nurse, and translator

In a slideshow presentation, Cadet and Gonzalez chronicled their time helping victims in humid weather that averaged 95 degrees in the daytime. A public hospital was used to house patients and set up a triage unit. With the facility overwhelmed, most of the victims, many with severe infections, broken bones, and severed limbs, were placed on mattresses.

The medical team brought external fixators — metal devices screwed into bones to stabilize fractures — and as a precautionary measure they placed casts on victims who they thought might have broken bones because equipment needed to positively identify a break wasn’t readily available.

Cadet described the chaos and noted that when aftershocks hit the area, victims took themselves and their mattresses outside, away from the building. When asked by doctors to head back inside, they refused, citing the falling rubble that had injured them before.

“It’s hard to see in pictures, what we saw,” Gonzalez noted.

Msgr. Joe Ciampaglio spoke of the problems in Haiti coming “not only (from) the earthquake, but (from the fact) that the people in Haiti are already in abject poverty.” The priest represents CRS’s Global Fellows Program, which is a group of priests, seminarians, and deacons from around the county that attempts to spread awareness of the injustice, poverty, and violence in developing countries,

Msgr. Ciampaglio outlined the guiding principles that Catholic Relief Services operates on, which include sacredness and dignity of the human person, rights and responsibilities, social nature of humanity, the common good, subsidiarity, solidarity, option for the poor, and stewardship.

Speaking of the importance to help others struggling, especially in Haiti, he reminded those in attendance that “All of creation is inter-related; we are in relationship to the environment, and to the world.”